IndyCar: Charlie Kimball ready to kick into high gear for season’s stretch run

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With three-quarters of the Verizon IndyCar Series season complete, it’s time for Charlie Kimball to shift his season into overdrive.

Although Kimball has no wins, poles or podium finishes, he’s still performed well overall in the first 12 races of the season, with two top-fives (Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indianapolis 500) and six other top-10s.

The California native enters Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in 10th place in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

In the three years that the series has raced there, Pocono has been a mixed bag for Kimball and the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

He finished 12th in last year’s race and a career-worst 17th in 2014.

But on the flip side, and this is what Kimball hopes to replicate – or better – on Sunday, he finished runner-up in the first race there in 2013.

After his worst outing of the current season – 16th at Belle Isle 2 – Kimball has put together a good run of results since.

He was sixth at Road America, 10th at Iowa, 11th at Toronto and eighth almost three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio.

Kimball isn’t just knocking on the door for another top-five, he’s ready to kick that door down. And this weekend could not be a better time. While his 318 points have him ranked 10th in the standings, Kimball is only 39 points out of fifth place (currently occupied by Scott Dixon).

Another reason to add to Kimball’s optimism is last week’s open test at Pocono went very well for him and his team.

“We learned a lot testing at Pocono Raceway, mostly focusing on mechanical and aero changes so we have a good plan for the qualifying and race car setups when we return for the ABC Supply 500,” Kimball said. “If conditions were like they were during testing, I think there’s going to be a lot of talk about balance this weekend.

“As far as how the race strategy plays out, it’s anyone’s guess right now – we’ll have to wait and see if yellows play a big part or if we’re clean and fast.

“Even with a couple of test days, two off weekends seems like an eternity to be away from the track. I’m looking forward to going back for 500 miles on Sunday with the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Team.”

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Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”